D.H. Griffin implodes Riverfront Stadium

Thousands of sports fans and implosion enthusiasts recently braved freezing pre-dawn temperatures along the Ohio River to watch D.H. Griffin of Franklin, Tennessee successfully fell Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.

To prepare for the implosion, blaster Steve Pettigrew and his team drilled more than 2,500 holes in concrete supports throughout the 1,600-foot long structure. The holes were then loaded with approximately 1,800 pounds of 40% nitroglycerin-based explosives. Linear shaped RDX charges were also attached to the steel supports of the upper grandstand to ensure an inward, smooth-flowing collapse towards the playing field.

From a liability standpoint, the implosion was the most difficult stadium blast ever attempted. Standing less than 24 feet to the east were hundreds of floor-to-ceiling height windows along the perimeter of the new Great American Ballpark. To the west sat the Charles A. Roebling suspension bridge, Cincinnati's most prominent historic landmark dating back to the Civil-War era. After the event it was determined that not a single window was broken in the new stadium, and both adjacent structures were left completely unharmed.

With previous blasts such as Fulton County Stadium and Exhibition Stadium to their credit, the Riverfront Stadium project solidified D.H. Griffin's record as the only blast team in America to successfully raze full-sized sports stadiums without complications.

Dykon president Jim Redyke devised a blast plan to drop the 70-year-old, 180-foot by 130-foot steel truss roof straight down onto the building's pre-stressed concrete floor using 14 pounds of RDX linear shaped explosive charges on a single delay. Redyke's plan also called for meticulous preparatory operations such as saw-cutting a three-foot wide gap around the perimeter of the structure's basement slab (to help mitigate the transmission of ground vibration) and covering the closest adjacent windows and doorways with protective plywood panels and geotextile fabric. These activities were completed on a strict timeline under the direct supervision of Pitsch Vice President, Gary Pitsch.

As an added measure of security, project officials contracted Protec Documentation Services, Hainesport, New Jersey, to forecast and calculate ground vibration and airblast levels prior to the demolition. The team also performed detailed pre-blast inspections of various structures surrounding the site, including the four-star Grand Plaza Hotel and the existing auditorium lobby located ten feet from the roof's closest point of impact.

The blast was scheduled for 3:00pm on a Saturday afternoon so as not to interfere with business activities or nearby church services. Thousands of local residents who had lined up along nearby rooftops and the banks of the Grand River then watched and cheered as a single sharp explosion brought the giant steel trusses down within a majestic swirl of dust, directly onto their intended zone. Following the blast, it was confirmed that all adjacent buildings remained unharmed, and vibration levels recorded at various locations were slightly less than predicted.

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